Medication vs. Psychotherapy: Which Is Better?

The most common mental health disorder in the United States is Major Depressive Disorder. Both psychotherapy, also known as counseling, and medication can be used to help treat those who suffer from depression. It has been debated over time as to whether psychotherapy or medication is better for treating depression. According to Psychology Today, most people choose drugs over therapy (Whitbourne, 2015, para. 2).

Whitbourne, an author who supports psychotherapy over drugs, states, “Antidepressants and antianxiety medications are among the leading prescription drugs not only in the US but around the world” (Whitbourne, 2015, para. 2). One of the main reasons Whitbourne chooses psychotherapy over medication is that medications can have many side effects. In fact, most of the world advertises and pays for medication as far as research and advocation go. Very rarely do you turn on the tv and see adds for therapy sessions. Instead, we constantly see adds for medications with many side effects included. The article also mentions, “the vast majority of people seeking treatment for depression and anxiety disorders prefer pharmacological to psychological interventions by a ratio of 3 to 1” (Whitbourne, 2015, para. 6). Whitbourne also believes that therapy may have a higher effective rate than drugs will.

In another article that supports therapy intervention over drug use, it is mentioned that therapy is just as effective, if not more effective than drugs when preventing relapses in cases of chronic depression (Walton, 2016, para. 11). Sometimes medication is needed, but medication and therapy go much better hand in hand rather than medicine alone. Insurance companies are starting to support therapy more as well by covering both medicine and therapy as medical treatment (Walton, 2016, para. 12).

With the new movement of psychotherapy becoming prevalent in the treatment of depression, it is hard to find sources that support drug use over therapy. Although this is true, some people still see the benefits of medicine alone. Medication and therapy are similar in the context that there are many trials and errors. For example, one medication may not solve symptoms for a particular client. Certain types of therapy may also not work for clients. Despite this, different types of medication may be easier to obtain rather than different forms of therapy. Not only is this due to general accessibility, but it is also due to insurance coverage and costs as well. Medication is typically much cheaper than psychotherapy (Ambrose, 2013, para. 1). Another article also states, “medication works best when you make healthy lifestyle changes as well” (“Depression treatment,” n.d., para. 3). So although some websites state the benefits of medications, it is very rare to find websites that accept medication over psychotherapy. It is almost always recommended to work with the two together.

All sources gathered for information can be seen as reliable. Nearly all information used was gathered from articles and research. Each author was attributed with fair credentials, and their work was clearly reviewed. All information provided was valuable and provided equal amounts of support. For example, articles that supported the use of therapy were written by authors with Ph. D’s, and were associated with professional psychology associations. Although not every author had Ph. D’s that supported medication over therapy, each work was still reviewed and fairly publicised.

Overall, as someone who has been diagnosed with depression, I can say that medication works well for me. The antidepressant I am on has not always been the same. It was indeed a trial and error to find the right type of medication for me. Even still, this year I had to switch over to another medication again because despite raising the dosage of my previous medication, its effectiveness was waning because I had been on it for so long. I had to completely switch medications, but after doing this, my symptoms improved once more. Let me make it clear that depression does not completely go away once a medication enters the system. Sometimes I still have bad days. I have never continuously gone to psychotherapy. Like I said, therapy and medication are similar in the fact that everything is trial and error. I have seen many therapists over the years, none of which I have cliqued with. Each experience has been different; For one therapy session, I was happily having a conversation with the therapist, but with another, I was so worked up that once my mom left the room I curled up into the fetal position and bawled for 20 minutes straight, never once saying a word to the therapist. I wish I knew why an event like this occurred. The fact is that depression and anxiety strike when you least expect it. I still get sad, even when I am on medication. Most of my days are good, but when I am stressed or overwhelmed, my disorders attack. Medication works well to hold off the symptoms, but I really would like to try seeing a therapist to see if my breakdowns cease or at least calm down. My goal is to be able to keep them under control. Although I am only on medication, I would recommend using both medication and therapy in hand, as this is ultimately where I would like to be. Everyone, however, is different; What works for you may not work for someone else. Finding a balance and learning to cope with depression is an essential lifelong process. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders, let them know that they are not alone in the fight. There are many resources out there to help you, so use them wisely.

Would you choose medication or psychotherapy for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder, Core Techs?

-B

Cornered

Cornered – Photography; 2016 Portfolio

References

Ambrose, C. (2013, July 16). The cost of therapy vs. the cost of medication.

Psychotherapy.net. Retrieved from https://www.psychotherapy.net/blog/title/talk-is-

cheap.-really.

Depression treatment. (n.d.). HelpGuide.org. Retrieved from

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-treatment.htm

Walton, A. G. (2016, May 6). A few things that therapy may do better than medication,

according to science. Forbes. Retrieved from

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2016/05/06/a-few-things-that-therapy-may-

do-better-than-medication-according-to-science/#7458cc7e4243

Whitbourne, S. (2015, July 21). Psychotherapy vs. medications: The verdict is

in. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/fulfillment-any-

age/201507/psychotherapy-

vs-medications-the-verdict-is-in

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